Monday, September 12, 2011

Week Seven - Applesauce

We had to make these, both because apples were on sale at the grocery store and because we are feeling very homesick for someplace where there actually is fall. My mother wrecked me and I’m wrecking my son. I never ate that weird tan stuff they call applesauce that you can buy at the grocery store. I even remember looking suspiciously at the yellowish blob of the stuff on my lunch tray in elementary school. The menu listed applesauce. It was only vaguely apple-y and only marginally edible in my mind… not because it was terrible. It was just not that good compared to the homemade stuff I grew up on.

Okay… you are likely saying to yourself. “That crazy woman! I don’t have time to make homemade applesauce.” But, don’t despair… it is EASY! And so worth it. The apple jelly is optional, but I highly recommend it. I mean, what else are you going to do with all that juice? And lest you think this is like those little packs of jam that they serve at diners… let me tell you quickly that like homemade applesauce, homemade jelly is an entirely different beast. A delicious beast.

The recipe is sort of vague, but I think you’ll get it pretty easily.
First, before you do anything… do you have a food mill? If you don’t, you should, but you can still make this recipe, it just won’t be quite as easy. Go buy a food mill. You can pick them up for about five bucks at an antique store like I did. I’m sure you can buy them new too, but probably not for five dollars.


Apples (duh) I usually won’t make applesauce unless I have at least five pounds, but this time I had ten. As for the kind? Get what you like. I love Macintosh, so if they are available, I buy them. A close second is a Jonathan apple or other thin-skinned apple. But, you can throw in whatever apples you like. You can even use the bruised ones… it doesn’t matter. And you may be able to get your produce person to give them to you for cheap or free because otherwise they’ll just throw them out.
Lemon juice
Nutmeg (optional)

  • If you have a food mill, congratulations. This will be easy. Just quarter the apples and chuck them into a pot filled with about an inch of water.…. Yes, seeds, stem, those maddening little stickers and all. If you don’t (I’m sorry), you’ll have to peel and core them then put them in the pot. See? The food mill is the way to go.

  • Cover and let simmer until they are soft. This usually only takes about fifteen minutes tops. Keep an eye on things and add water if everything starts getting dry. It just depends on how juicy your apples are at this point.

  • Let cool for a bit. You can uncover them to help them cool. Don’t be alarmed. They look gross.

  • Use a slotted spoon to scoop some into your food mill (or a blender or food processor). I guess you could mash them by hand with a potato masher, but I’ve never tried this.

  • Whirl everything around until your mill is empty. Repeat until you’ve used all the apples.

  • Add the juice of half to a whole lemon and a bit of sugar and cinnamon. Keep tasting it until you like the flavor. You can use artificial sweeteners or agave or stevia in place of some or all of the sugar, but I’m sort of a purist… or nonpurist, depending on your point of view.

  • Also, your applesuace will be brown, whether you add cinnamon or not. This is the natural color... that other junk is bleached or something. ;)

Apple Jelly

  • Now, you still have a pot of juice. You will need to strain this. You can use either a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth. Shhh. This isn’t hard.

  • Then pour the juice or drip it into a clean pot (a medium one).

  • Eyeball your juice (I told you this isn’t exactly scientific) and add ¾ to 1 cup of granulated sugar for each cup of juice. You can’t use anything artificial here…. Sorry.

  • Place over a low flame and stir it until the sugar is dissolved. Let it simmer for about five minutes. You may need to skim off any foam on the surface. I don’t know what this is… it’s best not to ask.

  • Now, let it boil gently until it begins to thicken. Use your spoon to judge this. Once it is about the consistency of honey, you’re ready to pour it into jars or some other heatproof container.

  • Let it cool and eat it. If it isn’t as firm as you like, just tell everyone it’s apple honey or apple syrup. If they still give you a hard time, tell them to shut it. Or just snatch it back from them and say “Too bad. More for me.” That’ll teach them.

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